The 2010 edUi Conference will begin in less than 24 hours, but there are still a handful of spots left if anyone is interested in attending. For those that are not aware, edUi is a conference for Web professionals at higher education institutions, libraries, museums and more. The conference focuses mainly on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), but myriad other topics will be covered, too.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I attended a great new conference known as edUi (a combination of edu – referring to college and university Web sites – and UI – the acronym for “user interface”). The conference featured sessions about HTML5 and CSS3, usability testing, writing Web content, design, social networking, mobile Web development and much more.
The layout of the conference was unlike anything I’ve attended in the past. The first day, we were all assigned (based on first and second choices we indicated upon registration) an all-day session. We checked into the conference in whatever session we were scheduled to attend, and then settled in for a long day in one room. The second day, we all attended a morning keynote together, then got to choose one of the sessions we’d missed the day before. The “reprise” as the organizers called it, was a 75-minute summary of the six-hour session that the presenters had made the day before. We then got to choose a 45-minute session, lunch, an hour long keynote (once again, all together) and one more 45-minute session.
I am now attending a session on developing Web applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The presenter is Steve VanBrackle. Unfortunately, I have already discovered that this session is going to be completely dependent upon a Mac program called DashCode, for which there appears to be no Windows alternative. The interface for DashCode appears insanely easy to use, though.
To begin, VanBrackle simply created a new project. A working shell app was immediately created for him to edit and customize. All of the buttons, bars, etc. are automatically generated as part of the app.
He is now demonstrating how simple it is to click and drag information from a data store into the app. For the most part, it’s creating a JSON file to generate the data that’s being displayed in the application. Because of this format, it is easy to create the app a single time and then replace the data without having to redo everything.
At this point, he’s showing us how to add new buttons to the application, once again using click and drag interfaces. Once he places the button, a dialog appears presenting him with the choice of various event handlers that are available on the iPhone with buttons. By clicking one of the event handlers and typing the name of a function, a new, empty function is automatically created in the code window, allowing him to insert his custom code into the function.
I am now attending a session about MIT World and how to utilize this video portal to maximize the impact of video on educational Web sites. We are beginning with Laurie Everett discussing the initial reasons behind creating MIT World and the goals of creating the portal. She explains that she was recruited specifically to work on the project, with a goal of sharing information freely and openly.
The site began in 1999 using RealPlayer to broadcast the videos. As time went on, it became obvious that Flash was the video plug-in of choice for the Web, so they began producing videos in Flash around 2003. They produce and publish approximately 110 video projects each year on MIT World.
This morning, I am attending a shortened session about usability testing called “Usability Testing Without the Scary” by Dana Chisnell, author of The Handbook of Usability Testing. She presented the full version of this session yesterday during the all-day sessions, while I was attending the HTML5 and CSS3 presentation from Molly.
For this session, Chisnell began by asking the audience for some of the main points we would like her to cover in the much shorter timespan she has today. To begin, someone asked the generic question about how we should be performing usability testing. I then asked, as advanced or “power” users, how do we, with limited resources, attempt to understand how the standard user will attempt to use our Web site. One other person asked if there were ways to increase or encourage participation in usability studies.